Emails between Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti and
State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agents last January run the gamet from “1970’s Deep Throat” to a bureaucratic lawyer who believes he has the right to advise and consent the outcomes of an investigation concerning his employer. Such is the arrogance of bureaucrats at every level of city, county and state government in this common era.
“I heard that in the Watergate era, Deep Throat told Woodward and Bernstein to just follow the money,” Carotti wrote. “It is ludicrous to believe that either [Horry County Administrator] Chris Eldridge or I had any motive whatsoever in all of this other than reporting what we had been told to his bosses and my client. Your report should not come back as undetermined, inconclusive, or unfounded. The least it should say is that the matter warrants further investigation.”
SHOULD CHAIRMAN GARDNER BE FORCED TO WORK WITH THIS?
With these leaked emails, what has now become common knowledge to residents is something Chairman Gardner and County Council have known for months. In the private sector any employee of Tyler Servant, Bill Howard, or Gardner (who displayed this level of insubordination) would be shown the door immediately. Why is it so hard to fire a government bureaucrat who is clearly operating to undermine the will of the electorate?
RESIDENTS ARE TROUBLED
We followed comments online all weekend. Residents are troubled by these leaked emails. Wrote county resident Lee Norberg, “The ” My Horry News” article on Carotti instructing SLED to “Dig Deeper” is unbelievable.”
A meeting has been called for Monday night at 6 p.m. MyrtleBeachSC news will be livestreaming this special session. As a generations long Horry County resident, it is amazing to watch comments from regular residents compared to insiders who are reading the very same articles. The differences in opinions are night and day.
However, this latest shoe to drop worked to stifle even County Administrator Chris Eldridge’s and County Attorney Arrigo Carotti’s biggest inside supporters. Make no mistake about it, Eldridge is the insiders’ bureaucrat of bureaucrats. Eldridge serves on the board of the MBREDC. He also served on the search committee board last year that worked to hire the new Myrtle Beach Area Chamber C.E.O. He was a key member of Mark Lazarus’ staff. The two were inseparable.
In the late 1980’s, I could name every insider who actually ran Horry County. While two divergent groups existed, locals knew that when Craig Wall Sr., Craig Wall Jr., or George Bishop had a good idea, every elected official wanted to hear it. Along the coast, Clay Brittain Jr., Cecil Brandon, General James F. Hackler, Mike Wooten, Doctor Russell Burgess, and later, Brad Dean could rally the entire county to get behind whatever they found important. There were a few others, [including the Holiday Family, B&C] but everyone knew who the establishment was and how important it was to stay in their good graces.
TODAY’S COASTAL ESTABLISHMENT
I asked one long standing coastal insider who he believes the group of remaining “Establishment” insiders consisted of today.
While hotel property manager Matthew Brittain still wields a large wand of power along the coast, it is a pittance compared to the influence his father held. Over his lifetime, Brittain has been able to leverage the standing his father left him to pocket considerable amounts of tax subsidized millions. As a property manager Brittain makes millions annually leveraging other peoples’ money [especially taxpayer monies]. However, when Brittain yells charge, only a handful of insiders typically respond.
Now operating as a Real Estate Investment Trust, Burroughs And Chapin no longer garners the substantial local influence in Horry County it once held for generations. The Holiday family’s influence is a shadow compared to their former impact during king tobacco’s heyday.
Most of the coastal establishment today, including Mike Wooten, Benji Hardee, Steve Chapman and Matthew Brittain either make money working government related contracts or work in a business that is heavily tax subsidized to the tune of over $250 million local tourist tax dollars from decade to decade. That is why having influence in government is so critical to them and that is exactly why their local social influence is waning.
Just three years ago, elected officials Mark Lazarus, Alan Clemmons or Luke Rankin could never have imagined that former fire fighter Chad Caton could have more influence than these establishment insider elites.
For these very reasons, tomorrow night is a watershed moment in Horry County history.
Most will consider tomorrow night’s outcome as a small victory or defeat, depending upon their perspective. However, history will likely mark tomorrow night as a key moment in the sea change of new transition currently happening in Horry County.
Even if the insiders pull out a mixed bag compromise or a win for Eldridge, Carotti, and I-73, the establishment is now clearly fractured and less influential moving forward.
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